Tue. May 24th, 2022

A significant breakthrough came in the early 2000’s, when Japanese researchers hit a simple formula to turn an embryo-like tissue into strong stem cells. Imagination ran wild. Scientists have realized that they could potentially create an unlimited supply of almost any type of cell – say a nerve or heart muscle.

In practice, however, the formula for creating specific cell types can prove elusive and then there is the problem of getting lab-grown cells back into the body. So far, few have been shown to re-program as a method of treating patients. Researchers in Japan tried to replace it Retinal cells Among the blind people, it was reported last November by a US company called Vertex Pharmaceuticals A person can cure type 1 diabetes After the infusion of programmed beta cells, that type of insulin response.

The idea that startups follow is to collect normal cells from patients, say skin, and then transform them into hair-forming cells. In addition to dNovo, a company called Stemson (named Stem Cell and a portman of Samson) has raised $ 22.5 million from the drug company AbbVie. Geoff Hamilton, co-founder and CEO, says his company is replacing cells that are reprogrammed in rat and pig skin to test the technology.

Both Hamilton and Lausanne think there is a substantial market. About half of men have male-pattern baldness, some starting in their 20s. When women lose hair, it often becomes more common thinning, but no less a blow to a person’s self-image.

These companies are bringing high-tech biology to an industry known for its illusions There are lots of false claims about both hair loss remedies and the possibility of stem cells. “You need to be aware of scam offers,” said Paul Knopfler, a stem cell biologist at UC Davis. Wrote in November.

Close-up of a skin organ covered by pores.

Juan Lee and Carl Kohler, Harvard Medical School

Clever business

So will stem cell technology cure baldness or become the next false hope? Hamilton, the founder of Stamson, was invited to give a keynote address this year Global Hair Loss Summit, And said he tried to emphasize that the company still has a lot of research head. “We have seen a lot [people] Come in and tell them they have a solution. It’s happened a lot in the hair, and so I have to fix it, “said Hamilton.” We’re trying to project to the world that we’re real scientists and that it’s so risky that I can’t guarantee it will work. “

At the moment, there are some approved hair loss medications, such as Propecia and Rogain, but their use is limited. Another procedure involves a surgeon cutting a strip of skin where a person still has hair and replacing those follicles with a bald spot. Luzan says that in the future, hair-growing cells grown in the lab could be attached to a person’s head through similar surgery.

“I think people have to go a long way to get their hair back. But first it would be a certain process and very expensive,” said Carl Kohler, a professor at Harvard University.

Hair follicles are amazingly complex organs that are formed by molecular crossstacks between different cells. And Kohler says the picture of rats growing human hair is not new. “Whenever you see these images,” Kohler said, “people always have a strategy and some flaws for translating it.”

Koehler’s lab makes hair shafts in a completely different way – by increasing organelles. Organoids are tiny blobs of cells that self-organize in a petri dish. Kohler says he was primarily studying deafness and wanted to grow cells like the hair on the inner ear. But its organelles turn into whole skin with pores.

Kohler took the accident and now produces a round skin organoid that grows for about 150 days and grows quite large – about two millimeters across. The follicles of tube-like hair are clearly visible and, he said, are the equivalent of hairless hair covering the fetus.

One of the surprises is that the organelles grow backwards, the hairs pointing inwards. “You can see the beautiful architecture, but the big question is why they grow inside,” said Kohler

The Harvard lab uses a supply of reprogrammed cells established by a 30-year-old Japanese man. However, it remains to be seen whether other donor cells can lead organelles to hair with distinct color and texture. “There’s a demand for it,” Kohler said. “Cosmetic companies are interested. Their eyes light up when they see the organoids. “

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